It’s an old conservative refrain that America’s big, predominantly Democrat-run cities are festering hell holes of poverty, disease, and sin. Despite being synonymous with New York City for several decades, Donald Trump still can’t seem to resist taking the bait.
In an interview that aired on Fox News on July 1, host Tucker Carlson turned the conversation toward the “filth” that’s plaguing the country’s metropolises, namely New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Neither Trump nor Carlson directly referenced homelessness, but Trump repeated a line from the campaign trail about police officers’ health being negatively impacted by “walking the beat” in cities with large populations of homeless people.
“It’s a phenomena that started two years ago,” Trump declared. “It’s disgraceful. I’m going to maybe—and I’m looking at it very seriously—we’re doing some other things that you probably noticed like some of the very important things that we’re doing now. But we’re looking at it very seriously, because you can’t do that.”
Trump neglected to detail the “very important things” his administration is doing right now—nor did he explain the perplexing conviction that the homelessness crisis is a mere two years old—but he did threaten to “intercede.”
According to the results of Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority’s 2019 homeless count, the number of people living in tents, vehicles, and shelters in the City of Los Angeles increased by 16 percent since last year’s count. If there has been federal intervention (or “very important things we’re doing right now” in Trump speak), it’s yet to have a positive impact on people struggling against stagnant wages, the skyrocketing cost of housing, and diminishing resources for mental health and other services.
According to Politico, California governor Gavin Newsom was quick to respond to Trump’s tirade, pointing out that hacking social services isn’t exactly the right way to intervene:
“It sounds like the president of the United States recognizes he has work to do on this issue,” Newsom said, spinning the president’s comments as “encouraging” — while rebuking Trump for proposals that would mean “decreasing the social safety net to address the reasons people are out on the streets and sidewalks in the first place,” questioning if Trump was “familiar with the tenets or details of his budget.”
Since being elected, Trump has visited Los Angeles only three times; his most recent visit was for a campaign fundraiser in April.
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